Making the pot filler level and plumb

The plumbers that installed the pot filler at the kitchen cooktop did not make it level and plumb — and it wiggled, just a little bit.

As part of the punch list, Odell and Jacinto from Ranserve chisled five bricks from the exterior wall on the outside of the house directly opposite where the pot filler is mounted to the studs inside the wall. In other words, we are working from the outside of the house, to the inside. Why? We don’t want to have to take down the red glass tile backsplash that the pot filler is mounted to inside the kitchen. And, additionally, we need to get to the mounting structure inside the wall; the shortest route is to chisel from the outside in.

This became a two-day project — just to fix an oversight by the plumbers — with another day pending.

Photo essay:

After Jacinto chisled out the brick and cut away the sheathing to expose the studs, we carefully pulled handfuls of the insulating foam away from the studs — to reveal two Ethernet network cables — thin blue cables at left of photo — the blue Pex water line that runs almost horizontally across the stud bay, and the copper angle fitting to which the Pex is coupled.

It took several hours to carefully dissect our way into the house. Photo above reveals two network cables that run down the exterior wall into a conduit that travels under the concrete slab of the kitchen floor, then out to the island, where we can plug various devices into the network inside the house. At right, Odell, Steve and Jacinto — after much discussion — opted to cut away a chunk of stud to yield up access to the copper fitting that screws three times into whatever it is mounted to. And we had to do this without breaking any of the glass tiles on the other side of the drywall visible at the back of the photo. At right, is an older, darker, intact stud original to the house. Further right is a brighter stud — newer wood — and the edge of the OSB sheathing that Ranserve installed against the new stud and several others behind brick that we did not remove. 

The next step was to cut a 2×4 in half, lengthwise, screw that carefully to the intact original stud to the right. But first, we had to drill three holes in the short length of stud to match the three mounting holes in the copper pipe angle, feed bolts through the wood into the pipe angle — and then Steven, who had the slimmest, longest fingers between Odell, Jacinto and Steven, working blind by touch behind the wood, fitting lock washers and nuts to the back end of the bolts. After which we were able to pull the pot filler tight to the wood, adjusting the screws a quarter turn at a time while leveling the pot filler insider the house.

With the pipe angle bolted and the pot filler leveled, Odell and Jacinto cut down a piece of 3/4-inch plywood, screwed that tight to the intact darker stud to the right of the sliced stud, and then drilled three screws into the wood against which the pipe angle is mounted, pulling that short piece of wood into a position where the pot filler inside the kitchen is level, plumb and secure, with minimal wiggles.

With the piping braced, several hours into this episode, we sealed up the house and called it a day, leaving behind a pile of debris on the ground. Jacinto packed away all the tools, and we scheduled to revisit at 8 am the next morning.
Jacinto peeled off the protective plastic. Here’s a close-in shot of the excavation, peering up. Visible in this shot is something new. Jacinto added a vertical run of 3/4-inch plywood, notching it around the Pex tubing. He screwed this at top and bottom to the cut ends of the old stud, using deck-mount screws. Then he carefully screwed the plywood to the chunk of 2×4 that the copper pipe fitting is screwed to. The three nuts are visible on the chunk of 2×4. This creates a mount that is secured from two different directions.
And a close in look down at the debris trapped between the brick and sheathing. We tried to clean most of this out, but it’s nearly impossible. There’s no way to prevent debris from falling into the air gap between the back of the brick and the front of the sheathing.
Jacinto cuts a square of OSB sheathing to fit against the studs.
After test-fitting the OSB, Jacinto used spray foam from a can to re-insulate the stud bay and pipes. He carefully sealed smaller gaps between studs too.
With the foam still curing and sticky, Jacinto screwed the OSB sheathing to the studs. This established a third mounting angle to lock the pipe angle mount firmly into position.
Jacinto taped everything up with Tyvek tape, to close as many air gaps as possible.
Steven collected bricks from the pile left over from remodeling the house. Jacinto chipped old cement away from the bricks.
He mixed up cement from a bag, troweled the cement and bricks into place.
Here’s the final brick, buttered with cement, inserted into the wall.
Jacinto smoothed and pointed the cement, filling gaps.
And now we let the cement dry and cure overnight, to make it ready for painting.


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